At the close of another year, it’s a great idea to take some time and dream up some adventures for the next 12 months. There are so many amazing places to see, dine and experience in Massachusetts, but there are some places that are definite crowd favorites.
We’ve composed a “greatest hits” list of the most fantastic places we explored in 2016 that you absolutely need to visit in the coming year, and it is 100% guaranteed to make 2017 your most exciting year yet.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Ramblewild Tree-to-Tree Adventure Park, Lanesborough
Explore over 1,400 acres of gorgeous forest from the air at this amazing aerial adventure park. Children as young as seven can try their hand at everything from a relaxing canopy walk to an exciting aerial ropes course. Even if you think this kind of thing isn't for you, it's worth giving Ramblewild a try. (110 Brodie Mountain Road, Lanesborough)
2. Gingerbread Village, Oak Bluffs
The gingerbread village of Wesleyan Grove in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard is probably the most charming place on earth. This cozy community of Victorian-style cottages was originally built as a religious retreat, but now welcomes curious visitors year-round. (80 Trinity Park, Oak Bluffs)
3. Davoll's General Store, Dartmouth
Davoll’s General Store is the oldest general store in Massachusetts, and ranks among the oldest in the United States. It's crammed with old-fashioned candy, decorations and odds and ends. From charming antiques to hot coffee and pastries, you're bound to find something memorable at Davoll's. (1228 Russell’s Mills Road, Dartmouth)
4. Breezy Picnic Grounds Waterslides, Douglas
In the sleepy town of Douglas, this hidden waterfront spot is waiting to become your new favorite summertime haunt. Featuring crystal-clear reservoir waters, a gorgeous picnic area and an array of spectacular 300-foot waterslides, you'll never want to spend the big bucks on one of those crowded waterparks again.
5. Becket Land Trust Historic Quarry and Forest, Becket
The Becket Land Trust Historic Quarry and Forest is park filled with the ruins of old mining equipment, climbable vintage cars, and even abandoned buildings to explore. It's free to visit, open year-round from dawn to dusk, and an amazing place for an outdoor adventure. (456 Quarry Road, Becket)
6. Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport
This beautiful wildlife refuge is the perfect spot for a stroll in all seasons. The real jewel of this park is the boardwalk hike, which will take you through majestic rolling dunes, fascinating swamp, and shady forest. The trail is only about a mile long, so you can tackle it in an afternoon.
7. 1761 Old Mill Restaurant, Westminster
The 1761 Old Mill Restaurant has been catering to Westminster residents and visitors for almost 100 years. Featuring a lovely, covered wooden bridge and an enchanting waterfall, the view at this cozy and casual restaurant is almost as good as the food. Almost. (69 State Road East, Westminster)
8. Oldie's Marketplace, Newburyport
Located only steps from downtown Newburyport, this massive, red barn is filled to the top with antiques and collectibles of all kinds. Stepping into this huge shop feels like taking a trip back in time. From vintage clothes to old license plates and even suits of armor, you're sure to find a great bargain on some cool treasure at Oldie's. (27 Water Street, Newburyport)
9. Stone Ledge Trail, Mount Greylock
In 2016, we deemed this mountain trail to possibly be the most beautiful hike in all of Massachusetts. Clocking in at only around 1.9 miles, this trail will take you through an enchanted-looking forest, past cascading waterfalls and to spectacular views from Stone Ledge itself. Visit the Mount Greylock State Reservation website to learn more.
10. Mass MoCA, North Adams
Natives from the eastern part of the state may not be familiar with Mass MoCA, but a visit here should be on everyone's 2017 culture bucket list. It's one of the largest art centers in North America, and a great place to take in some awesome music, film, dance, theater and cool art exhibitions. (87 Marshall Street, North Adams)
11. Smith College Greenhouses, Northampton
Even when it's cold out (which is most of the time here in the Bay State), the Smith College greenhouses are filled with fragrant greenery and blooming flowers. Stop by for a taste of springtime anytime. (16 College Lane, Northampton)
12. Gunn Brook Falls, Sunderland
When everyday life starts to drag, inject your routine with a big of fantasy by visiting these fairytale falls in Sunderland. Hiking there is easy, and will only require 0.2 miles of legwork. Once you're there, you can admire over 35 feet of beautiful, glittering cascades.
13. Gould’s Sugar House, Shelburne Falls
This sugar shack churns out the richest, sweetest maple syrup possible. It's open seasonally in the fall and spring, so stop by for some pancakes and all sorts of delicious maple products, like jams, candies, and even maple soft-serve ice cream. (570 Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls)
14. S.K. Pierce Mansion, Gardner
This massive Victorian mansion is so haunted, you are required to sign a liability waiver before entering. Built almost 130 years ago, a tragic string of deaths and accidents has given this site a gruesome reputation. It was recently purchased for a mere $329,000 in 2015 because the previous owners wanted so badly to be rid of it. You'll be able to visit the mansion later this year...if you dare. (4 West Broadway, Gardner)
15. Ghost Ship Harbor, Quincy
This massive, 60,000-square-foot haunted attraction is located inside the historic USS Salem battleship. Nicknamed the "Sea Witch, the ship itself has a bloody past, and has been rumored to be haunted for decades. Now, this floating haunted house takes things to a new level. This attraction is perfect for the 2017 Halloween season.
16. Freetown Fall River State Forest
The most haunted forest in the country is often said to be Massachusetts' own Freetown Fall River State Forest. Between strange creature sightings, the "Fall River Cult Killings" in the 1980s, multiple suicides, deadly wire traps intended to decapitate visitors, and numerous reports of strange lights and apparitions, this is one place you don't want to camp overnight.
17. Bigelow Chapel, Cambridge
Located in historic and picturesque Mount Auburn Cemetery, this Gothic structure looks more like a storybook castle than a chapel. Its dramatic spires and gorgeous stained glass windows are a wonder to see. (580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge)
18. Oakwood Farm Christmas Barn, Spencer
When Christmas 2017 rolls around, you absolutely need to visit this holiday wonderland in Spencer. With sparkling ornaments dangling from the ceiling and a gorgeous woodland setting, this family-owned and operating Christmas shop has been spinning holiday cheer for over 30 years. Pick up a handmade toy or ornament crafted by the owner, or just soak up the wintery magic. (1 Northwest Road, Spencer)
Make 2017 your most exciting year yet by visiting some or all of these fantastic Massachusetts destinations. For a perfectly planned road trip that will take you to some of the most majestic natural wonders in the state,